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He won a farm at the races, along with a wife! (By SJ du Toit) PDF Print E-mail

There are apparently two branches of Steyns in the Overberg. The one is the well-known Swellendam Steyns from which descends the ex-Free State President MT Steyn; and then there are the Spitzenkop Steyns who fell on good times. Jan Steyn related this story to Andre Kotzé of Struisbaai. 

Hermanus Steyn of the Swartland was the youngest of seven brothers. He realised that little would remain after his brothers had inherited the land. Around 1820 he decided to find work in the Overberg. His only possession was his horse. Somewhere near the present Napier, his horse was frightened by the smell of a lion and they raced for hours until reaching the farm Langefontein (the present Bredasdorp), streaming with perspiration.

 

A large assembly of Strandveld and Rûens families were gathered in preparation of Nagmaal (Holy Communion). The farmers were very fond of horse racing, and while they had a carnival and agricultural show, a race was planned for the following day.

 

All the young men took part in the race. Fanie Uys, the top rider, was almost certain of a first place. He was also the certain candidate for the hand of Hannie de Wet, the rose of the Overberg. She was the only child of Daan de Wet, owner of Spitzenkop, a huge farm between the present Bredasdorp and Swellendam. It meant that if Fanie and Hannie should marry, Fanie would eventually own all the land between Potberg and the sea.

 

Daan de Wet liked the idea of Fanie as a son-in-law. He was completely convinced that Fanie would win the race, so he offered his daughter’s hand to the winner of the race. He gave little thought to the stranger, Hermanus Steyn, who had arrived on the farm and entered with his sweat-clad stallion. Hermanus’ horse had rested in the meantime and won the race with ease. Daan de Wet was shocked and wanted to withdraw the prize. Hannie, however, did not like Fanie very much, but nevertheless felt an attraction to the stranger, and insisted that he must get the prize. Hermanus Steyn accepted and married Hannie, and by doing so eventually became the owner of Spitzenkop.

 

Farms have changed hands often in that area, but the descendants of Hermanus and Hannie still farm in the vicinity of Spitzenkop. It’s not every day that a man can boast of winning a farm and a wife on a horse race.

 
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